Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Holidays

by Wolf Schneider

Holiday decorations along Canyon Road (Zaplin-Lampert Gallery)
Street posts in downtown Santa Fe are wrapped in green pine garlands, and Christmas lights are glowing on Canyon Road. Artists, skiers, and spiritual seekers are all here for the holidays, reveling in this winter’s great ski conditions.

Seekers have always come to Santa Fe and especially Taos, chef extraordinaire Joseph Wrede recently pointed out to me while I was having a fabulous tuna-steak sandwich with coleslaw at The Palace. Taos is even more removed from the rest of the world than Santa Fe.

Somebody who famously dropped out in the forties and moved to Taos was Millicent Rogers. Taos-based author Cherie Burns ( recently wrote Searching for Beauty, a perceptive biography of that Standard Oil heiress and fashion trendsetter who popularized the Southwest socialite look of a white blouse, long black skirt, and lots of silver and turquoise jewelry.

I interviewed Burns recently over coffee at Collected Works Bookstore, and told her my favorite section of the book was the Taos years. Burns said, “I had to explain what Taos is, and what it was to Millicent and to women then.” Which was? “It was in some ways like what it is now, but more of a frontier. The Anglo population making a life for themselves there – – the artists and the prosperous Anglo women – – came for a certain kind of experience. It was a smaller and wilder place.” Which influenced Millicent how? Burns replied, “There was a profound shift for Millicent from looking for beautiful things that could be bought like fine clothes and Faberge eggs – – she had a real eye for beauty and quality. When she came to Taos, she was reset to appreciate a whole different palette of beauty – – like starry nights in the dark and being led by torchlight after dinner parties.” To all my blog readers: wishing you light in the darkness too in these final days of 2011!
Wolf Schneider has been editor in chief of the Santa Fean, editor of Living West, consulting editor of Southwest Art, and also blogs at

Photographer: David Alfaya, Taken in Artist Studio: Gregory Lomayesva